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Type 56 Assault Rifle: A Curious Case of Indian Army using Chinese Weapon

Can you imagine, Indian Army using Chinese weaponry. Kunwar Rajeshwar Singh Karki brings you a curious case where Indian Army has used not one but two weapons manufactured in China.

The Type 56 which is a copy of the AK-47 and AKM manufactured by Norinco of the People’s Republic of China is one of the two captured weapons used en masse by the Indian Army, the other one being the Type 80 machine gun which again is a copy of the Soviet PK and PKM. They were acquired in a sizeable quantity by the eliminated militants in the Kashmir valley during the 90s and pressed into service by the Army.

The Type 56 variants usually seen in the valley are the stamped steel receiver variants, the Chinese like the Soviets shifted to stamped steel receivers from the milled receiver on the Type 56s sometime during the mid 60s. Unlike the PLA Type 56s, the ones used by militants and consequently captured by the Indian Army don’t have the spike bayonet. The under-folding Type 56-1 variant is used by Army during COIN ops in Kashmir along with the AKM and AKMS from Russia and Poland, PM Md.90 from Romania, MPi KMS-72 from East Germany, AR-M1 and AR-M1F from Bulgaria, with fixed stock Type 56 almost never been seen in service with the Indian Army.

The stamped receiver Type 56 is an amalgamation of the milled receiver AK-47 stamped receiver AKM and the RPK. It has a AK-47 style gas block and gas-port. The receiver is 1.5mm thick like the RPK unlike the 1mm thick receiver of the AKM, also the rivets are placed in the exact same position as that in the RPK. Trunnions of both the Type 56 and AKM are different as well, the AKM having a stepped trunnion while the Type 56 has a smooth trunnion. The fixed stock and under-folding stock are the exact copy of the AK-47 and AKS-47, while AKM and AKMS have a different fixed stock and underfolding stock. The front sight post is modeled after the AK-47, while the AKM has a different front sight post. The dust cover is a copy of the AK-47 and smooth while the AKM has a ribbed dust cover.

The easiest way to identify a Type 56 from the similar looking AKMS is by it’s front sight post, the front sight is shrouded while AKMS doesn’t have a shrouded front sight post. The Type 56 will also almost always be seen with a slab-sided handguard v/s the palmswell hand-guard as seen on the AKM, AKMS and PM Md.90. The Type 56 also is rarely seen with the slant muzzle brake common in the and other AK variants used by India.

About Writer – Kunwar Rajeshwar Singh Karki is an ‘Ex-Mayo’ and an ‘Informed’ Farmer based in Nainital.

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